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Salzburg to Zurich - CanNOT figure out trains

Salzburg to Zurich - CanNOT figure out trains

Old Jun 8th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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Salzburg to Zurich - CanNOT figure out trains

Hello All,

My mother (72) and I (40s) will be traveling between Salzburg and Zurich from Aug 20 (when we arrive in Salzburg from visit in Germany with friends) to Aug 26 ( when we leave Zurich for home).

My only desire is to show my mother a good time. She would like to: see some castles (though we'll undoubtedly see some in Germany), go on a river tour, go to a chocolate factory, and not walk very much (she's pretty arthritic). We are not totally tight on a budget, but we are both pretty frugal.

Can anyone help? How do we make our way from Salzburg to Zurich with lovely visits on the way? Can you recommend an itinerary? Would it be possible to get on the Glacier Express?

I do not get the trains. I have been to every website and feel like I get conflicting information at each one. Flexipass? Saverpass? 3 country? Consecutive days??? We just wanna have fu-un.

Any and all suggestions gratefully accepted.

Thanks! Rachel
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 09:57 AM
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For time schedules between Zürich an Salzburg, see sbb.ch.

You can take the train from Zürich, through Lucerne, Andermatt and back down through Chur for a nice side trip in the mountains.

If you'd like to go to Salzburg from Zürich direct, do not consider any sidetrips.
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Old Jun 8th, 2009, 10:09 AM
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Hi rwescoto,

That's an awful lot of train travel for only two days. Do I have this right? Will you leave Salzburg the same day you arrive or the next day?? This is what it seems like you're doing:

21 Aug travel from Salzburg to first Swiss destination

22-24 Aug Switzerland

25 Aug travel to Zürich for flight out next day

With that little time, you really only have time for one destination, and I hope it will be a place in the mountains. While I haven't ever done a river trip, I've done quite a few lake ferry trips and think they're really, really hard to beat -- with mountains spilling in on all sides.

The Glacier Express is an eight-hour trip that goes between the far west of the country (Zermatt) and the far east of the country (St. Moritz or Chur). You already have a lot of train travel in your plans, and you don't have much time, so I would postpone this.

The chocolate factory that I know of is the Cailler factory in the town of Broc. You can do this as a day-trip from Montreux -- but Montreux is not a nice, Swiss mountain village so it may not give you the ambiance and views you'd like to have. The other chocolate factory is in the Ticino, the Italian section of the country in the south.

I recommend you find some mountains to enjoy. You and your mother don't have to walk far at all -- taxi to your hotel from the station, and afterwards take trains and cable cars to ascend the mountain peaks. Then you just sit in a mountain cafe and soak up the views!

The train trip from Salzburg to the town of Thun (in the Berner Oberland) takes about seven hours; from Salzburg to St. Moritz (or Pontresina) in the east takes either six or seven hours.

Then you can get to Luzern on the way to Zürich, and then spend your final night in Zürich.

Hope this gets you started on a plan. Here are some sites for your research:

www.rail.ch (Swiss rail site for schedules and fares)

www.thun.ch/tourismus.html (for Thun)

www.engadin.stmoritz.ch (for St. Moritz)




Once you have your destinations firmly established, then that's when you start figuring out the train costs and whether a pass would be beneficial. For now, just focus on the *where*!

Have fun planning!

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Old Jun 11th, 2009, 09:56 PM
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From reading this and your other post, I think you have from 6 days “on the ground” from August 20 to August 26, and are starting in Salzburg and want to end up on Zurich. I would first say that there are not a lot of castles in Switzerland, and those that exist are not that interesting other than Chillon in Montreux which IMO you don’t have time for unless you want to skip the Zurich area entirely. So my first recco is that you spend some time in Salzburg itself which has an impressive castle right in town at the top of its hill, and several “smaller” ones in town, like Schloss Mirabell. Salzburg is an extremely lovely town with a beautiful old town area, and you would not have to do a lot of walking to see some lovely areas. (You can also do the whole Sound of Music tour thing should you be so inclined. ) From your other post it appears that you plan to spend August 20-22 in Salzburg, which sounds fine. However, the countryside around Salzburg is also gorgeous with Alpine peaks and kind of loaded with castles. You could also consider doing scenic train rides here. There is a beautiful ride to Villach (which is part of a great train ride from Venice Vienna; you could just go to Villach and back about 2.5 hours each way. Stop in Villach for lunch) . I am sure there are others. (While Switzerland has better press, Austria has mountains which are just as beautiful.)

Of course just the ride from Salzburg to Zurich will be very lovely in itself. You could consider stopping off for lunch someplace like Innsbruck or St Anton in the Alps in Austria. I think that ride is so pretty, and would not really try to add too many other train trips, unless perhaps you did the trip to Villach mentioned above.

You could consider then going to Fussen, Germany on your way to Zurich, as that has Neuschwanstein which is the “fairy tale” castle you see in all the photos. This is a 4 hour journey from Salzburg which is quite beautiful, requiring one change in Munich. You may need to overnight in Fussen. From there it’s 6.5-8 hours to Zurich, and all trains require a few changes; which is one drawback to adding this to the itin. But look at train schedules and see what works. Of course it’s 6 hours from Salzburg to Zurich in any event, but the super fast train requires no changes. (Perhaps you could see Fussen as part of your German itin).

For a river tour, Germany would actually be the better place for that and you might first see if you can do a Rhine tour while you are in Germany; however you can do a short one down the river from Stein am Rein. This town is a short train ride from Zurich. This has a lovely old town with painted houses (unusual for Switzerland), and then you can do a boat ride as a few hour trip. I believe you can include a visit to the Schauffuasen Falls as well as part of that. (Some downhill stairs and walking is required for the falls.)

With regard to the chocolate factory, let me be quite honest. Due to hygiene rules, these tend to be quite clinical and more often have a movie showing chocolate being made than any actual time inside the factory. I personally would not waste time. Please just spend time in one of the many great chocolate shops in Zurich, like Teuscher, esp their shop at 9 Storchengasse, just off the Munsterhof near to the Fraumunster church in one of the loveliest parts of the old town. Go to http://www.teuscher.com. And then hop across the river to the Niederdorf section of the old town and have a hot chocolate at Cafe Schober/Cafe Felix, which is also operated by Teuscher. It is at Napfgasse 4. It’s a beautiful tiny shop/tea room in a restored medieval building. This is a great place to stop for a pastry in the afternoon (bring money).

Finally, despite what is said above about Monteux, with which I don’t disagree, the Lake Geneva area is absolutely lovely, especially in summer, and you could consider skipping the Zurich area and going there instead. This would mean a longer train trip from Salzburg (about 8 hours, a very pretty ride, you change in Zurich). However, the area offers a lot to see and do, and frankly stunning Alp and lake vistas. There is also the Chillon Castle, one of the few restored castles which you can visit in Switzerland, which is quite interesting. There are some lovely towns there like Vevey. You can do an easy day trip to mountain areas like Chateau d'oex, and would have the opportunity to do a scenic train trip like the Golden Pass. This is also the cheese making area of Gruyere which you can visit. There is the “chocolate train” tour which I think is a bit touristy, but may give you what you are looking for (this includes the factory in Broc which I believe the above poster is referring to, this is a Nestle factory and I don’t think much of a tour is involved.) There are vineyards lining the hillsides above the lake. It’s probably my favourite part of Switzerland. You can get to Zurich in about 2.5 hours by train so you could go there to get your flight out. (Or if you can switch your flight, consider flying out of Geneva.) It’s the French part of Switzerland, and would be quite different from the German part of Switzerland and the German culture you will have seen in Germany and Austria.
Cicerone is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2009, 07:07 AM
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Cicerone, you have already answered many of my questions in this post! You are amazing--you have my dates down better than I do!!

So I want to be sure I understand that it is easy enough to get an early morning train to the airport in Zurich from another city/town? We may try to stay somewhere else if that is the case. Maybe someplace a bit smaller and a little more central.

rwescoto is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2009, 06:13 PM
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I am not sure what “a little more central” means in terms of Switzerland, because it depends on what you want to do and see in Switzerland. So see rail.ch and put in towns you are interested in to see how long the train to the airport would take and how early in the morning they would start running. For example, it would be somewhat easy from Lucerne. I am not a huge fan of Lucerne, as it is actually a good distance from most of the mountain areas (although a day trip to Mt Pilatus or Titlus is possible from Lucerne, just IMO it’s hard to get a feel for the mountains by being there for 2 hours and it’s rather touristy), but it is only about an hour to the airport by train and trains do start running early. It would also be quite easy from Zug, and as I mentioned, you would also be able to get to Zurich airport from the Montreux/Lausanne area of Lake Geneva in the morning (it’s a major commuting line and there are frequent trains; for example, you can leave Lausanne at 6:20 am and be at the airport, with no changes, at 8:50 am) . From the Stein am Rhein area I mentioned in my first post, it would be about an hour to the airport. But it would be more problematic to get to the airport in the morning from say the St Moritz area, which is really a lovely area, but is like 3.5 - 4 hours by train, which is probably longer than you want to do on the same day as a flight.

Also bear in mind that coming from Salzburg, you may have some long train rides to get to what you think are “more central” areas of Switzerland. With only 3 days to spend, you would have to decide if longer train journeys are worth it. From Vienna to the Interklaken/Bernense Oberaland, which is indeed very lovely, would be at least 9 hours and require 1 or more changes. Zermatt is 10 hours and several changes (and for either, timings may be difficult for getting to the airport in the morning of a flight). But look at rail.ch for towns you are considering and see what works for getting to the airport. (Enter Zurich Airport as your destination.)

Please also don’t be under the impression that Zurich is a “big” city. It has a population of 450,000, about the same size as Sacramento, California and a bit bigger than Florence, Italy. It’s significantly smaller than cities like Paris, London, Paris or Rome which have populations of 9, 7 and 3 million respectively. In comparison to cities in Europe, Zurich is really a small town. The old town parts and tourist parts are quite compact and walkable/tramable.
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